, Volume 59, Issue 1, pp 39–49 | Cite as

Effects of growth hormone therapy on bone density and fracture risk in age-related osteoporosis in the absence of growth hormone deficiency: a systematic review and meta-analysis

  • Maya Barake
  • Asma Arabi
  • Nancy Nakhoul
  • Ghada El-Hajj Fuleihan
  • Sarah El Ghandour
  • Anne Klibanski
  • Nicholas A. Tritos



In adults, growth hormone deficiency (GHD) has been associated with low bone mineral density (BMD), an effect counteracted by growth hormone (GH) replacement. Whether GH is beneficial in adults with age-related bone loss and without hypopituitarism is unclear.


We conducted a systematic literature search using Medline, Embase and the Cochrane Register of Controlled Trials. We extracted and analyzed data according to the bone outcome included [bone mineral content (BMC), BMD, and bone biomarker, fracture risk]. We performed a meta-analysis when possible.


We included eight studies. Seven randomized 272 post-menopausal women, 61–69 years, to GH or control, for 6–24 months, and the eighth was an extension trial. Except for one study, all women received concurrent osteoporosis therapies. There was no significant effect of GH, as compared to control, on BMD at the lumbar spine (Weighted mean difference WMD = −0.01 [−0.04, 0.02]), total hip (WMD = 0 [−0.05, 0.06]) or femoral neck (WMD = 0 [−0.03, 0.04]). Similarly, no effect was seen on BMC. GH significantly increased the bone formation marker procollagen type-I carboxy-terminal propeptide (PICP) (WMD = 14.03 [2.68, 25.38]). GH resulted in a trend for increase in osteocalcin and in bone resorption markers. Patients who received GH had a significant decrease in fracture risk as compared to control (RR = 0.63 [0.46, 0.87]). Reported adverse events were not major, mostly related to fluid retention.


GH may not improve bone density in women with age-related bone loss but may decrease fracture risk. Larger studies of longer duration are needed to further explore these findings in both genders, and to investigate the effect of GH on bone quality.


Bone mineral density Fracture Growth hormone Meta-analysis Osteoporosis 



The authors would like to thank Dr. Elie Akl for his contribution to the methodology of the meta-analysis, Ms Aida Farha for her contribution to the systematic search and all study authors who generously provided data from their individual studies and answered study-related queries. Drs Barake, Arabi, El-Hajj Fuleihan, Tritos and Klibanski participated in study design; Drs Barake, Nakhoul and El Ghandour participated in article screening; Drs Barake and Nakhoul participated in data extraction and analysis; Drs Barake and Tritos participated in manuscript writing; All co-authors had the opportunity to revise, view and approve of the latest version of the manuscript. Research reported in this publication was supported by the Fogarty International Center and Office of Dietary Supplements of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number D43 TW009118. This funding supported the Scholars in Health Research Program (SHARP), American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Nicholas A Tritos has received institution-directed research support from Ipsen, Novo Nordisk, Novartis and Pfizer for work unrelated to this manuscript. Anne Klibanski has received research funding from Ipsen and consultancy from Chiasma. The remaining authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Scholars in HeAlth Research ProgramAmerican University of BeirutBeirutLebanon
  2. 2.Clemenceau Medical CenterBeirutLebanon
  3. 3.Calcium Metabolism and Osteoporosis Program, WHO Collaborating Center for Metabolic Bone DiseasesAmerican University of BeirutBeirutLebanon
  4. 4.Department of Internal MedicineAmerican University of BeirutBeirutLebanon
  5. 5.Bareen International HospitalAbu DhabiUnited Arab Emirates
  6. 6.Massacchusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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